Read Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor by Joseph Campbell Eugene Kennedy Online

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Thou Art That is a compilation of previously uncollected essays and lectures by Joseph Campbell that focus on the Judeo-Christian tradition. Here Campbell explores common religious symbols, reexamining and reinterpreting them in the context of his remarkable knowledge of world mythology. According to Campbell, society often confuses the literal and metaphorical interpretatThou Art That is a compilation of previously uncollected essays and lectures by Joseph Campbell that focus on the Judeo-Christian tradition. Here Campbell explores common religious symbols, reexamining and reinterpreting them in the context of his remarkable knowledge of world mythology. According to Campbell, society often confuses the literal and metaphorical interpretations of religious stories and symbols. In this collection, he eloquently reestablishes these metaphors as a means to enhance spiritual understanding and mystical revelation. With characteristic verve, he ranges from rich storytelling to insightful comparative scholarship. Included is editor Eugene Kennedy’s classic interview with Campbell in The New York Times Magazine, which brought the scholar to the public’s attention for the first time....

Title : Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor
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ISBN : 9781577312024
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Number of Pages : 192 Pages
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Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor Reviews

  • Mike
    2018-11-27 03:26

    The wise men who bowed down before the baby Jesus as he lay in the manger—they were Magi. I knew that. What I didn’t know is that Magi were the priests of the God Mithras, and for three centuries Mithras was Christianity’s main competitor. The wise men’s presence at the nativity scene is a symbolic representation of the new religion superseding the old. This is why reading Joseph Campbell is so revelatory. Who better to put religion into context than a comparative mythologist who is himself a visionary!!!

  • Yaser Aein
    2018-11-30 00:26

    یادم می‌آید روزی را که در کلاس «ادیان ابتدایی» در همان اوایل ترم اول نشسته بودیم و صحبت از امر مقدس بود. استادی که روزگاری مدیر گروه بود و قرار بود خودش دروس مهمی از الاهیات و اخلاق و عرفان ادیان ابراهیمی را در آینده به ما درس بدهد، این جمله را بر زبان آورد: «آنچه لازم است تا پایان دوره ارشد بدانید همین یک درس است، باقی چندان اهمیتی ندارند». امروز، پس از مطالعه این کتاب، می‌توانم تاحدودی معنا و اهمیت آن سخن را درک کنم. اگرچه شاید بهتر باشد آن را این‌چنین بازنویسی کنیم که «مطالعه الاهیات و اخلاق و عرفان ادیان ابراهیمی تنها زمانی می‌تواند موجه باشد که مقدمه‌ای برای مطالعه اسطوره‌ها و فهم زبان استعاری متون و امور مقدس قلمداد شوند». بدین‌ترتیب، مطالعه این کتاب برای من در حکم گذراندن یک واحد درسی ضروری بود که از قرار معلوم گنجاندن آن در برنامه آموزشی دانشگاه میسر نبوده است.در این اثر که البته پس از مرگ نویسنده و در نتیجه گردآوری بخشی از سخنرانی‌های پراکنده او به چاپ رسیده، چند مضمون بیش از بقیه برجسته است. نخست، معنای اسطوره که غالباً مورد کج‌فهمی قرار می‌گیرد. دوم، نسبت اسطوره با دین که همواره دو صف از موافقان و مخالفان را رویاروی یکدیگر قرار داده است و سوم، دگردیسی استعاره‌های موجود در اسطوره‌های قدیمی در ادیان رسمی غرب امروز ـ یهودیت و مسیحیت ـ که توجه به آن‌ها ابعاد ناشناخته و شگفت‌آوری از معنا را پیش روی دین‌باوران قرار خواهد داد و صفحات شورآفرینی از تأمل درباره خدا را ورق خواهد زد. درباره مضمون دوم، نمی‌توانم به راحتی از کنار گفته موجز و درخشنده‌ای از کمبل عبور کنم که در صفحه ۳۳ کتاب درج شده است: «خودم را متقاعد کردم که نیمی از مردم جهان فکر می‌کنند استعاره‌های روایات دینی‌شان واقعیات مسلم‌اند و نیم دیگر بر این باورند که آن‌ها اصلاً واقعیت نیستند. و در نتیجه ما آدم‌هایی داریم که خود را مؤمن می‌پندارند، زیرا استعاره را همان واقعیات می‌پذیرند؛ و آدم‌هایی که خودشان را ملحد می‌دانند، زیرا به نظرشان استعاره دینی دروغ است».ترجمه کتاب، در بدو امر بدون‌مشکل به نظر می‌رسید اما پس از مواجهه با اشتباهات فاحش در واژه‌گزینی تخصصی تاحدی شک‌برانگیز است، اگرچه من به دلیل عدم دسترسی به نسخه اصلی امکان مقابله و قضاوت نداشتم. صرف‌نظر از برگردان‌های غیررایجی مثل «پل مقدس» که می‌توانست «پولس قدیس» ترجمه شود و یا «پادشاهی خدا» که بهتر بود «ملکوت خدا» ترجمه شود، مواردی مانند ترجمه The Sadducees به «زندیقان!» و نه «صدوقیان» و نیز ترجمه Philippians به «فیلیپینی‌ها!» و نه «فیلپیان» یا «اهالی فیلپی» که در روزگار باستان در حوالی مدیترانه می‌زیستند و رساله پولس به آن‌ها در فهرست عهد جدید مشهور است، همچون برخی توضیحات نامربوط در پاورقی‌ها، گویای عدم آشنایی کافی مترجم با موضوع کتاب است که شایسته است در چاپ‌های بعدی اصلاح شوند.

  • Jan Rice
    2018-12-11 22:09

    Cheap shot.

  • Ian
    2018-11-17 23:10

    Interested in exploring some of the Biblical symbols of the Judeo-Christian faith, I picked up this book with high expectations. No doubt, this book has helped me wrestle with my faith since picking it up. However, this book suffers from many shortcomings that, by the middle portion of the book, almost made me put it down. First, while the language was not complex, the sentence structure and lack of adherence to grammatical rules made the text unwieldy. My understanding is that much of this book is based on speeches by Campbell. However, additional editing is needed to help the reader.Second - at various points, Campbell goes into long-winded rabbit trails that offers little to his main point. For example, in Chapter V, Campbell engages in a two page discussion on the importance of the number 432 as he moved from the subject - "What Kind of Gods Have We?" Campbell offers no introduction, no conclusion, no context as to why 432 is important. Just that 432 is important. Additionally, Campbell arbitrarily searches for this number in all place. This is evidenced by the statement "that in the 1,656 years from the creation to the Flood, 86,400 weeks had passed. Divided by two, that again produces 43,200." Campbell offers no explanation for dividing by 2. Even that, Campbell is so focused on finding 432 that he overlooks the fact that 1,656 x 52 = 86,112. Campbell ignoring this fact leads me to my biggest problem with the text.Third - Campbell has a lot of basic information completely wrong! Many of the things that Campbell states are based on erroneous facts. As earlier mentioned, Campbell is so focused on finding the number 432 that he does not do simple multiplication and division correctly. However, there are other facts that Campbell asserts about the Bible that is incorrect. Here is a few examples:- Campbell asserts that Christ is born in a cave. The only mention of a cave in the 4 Gospel accounts in either the King James or the New American Standard Bible is found in John 11 - dealing with Lazarus.- Campbell's assertion about the nunc dimittis is incorrect. Campbell states that the nunc dimittis said by Simeon happens after a young Jesus teaches in the temple. However, Simeon makes nunc dimittis after Jesus is presented at the temple and before (about 12 years before) Jesus teaches in the temple. Jesus teaching at the temple and the nunc dimittis is found in Luke 2.- Campbell states that Jesus was teaching in the temple in Jerusalem because his family was in Jerusalem because of the census. Again, a reading of Luke 2 indicates that Jesus's family was in Jerusalem because of the Feast of the Passover. Mary went to Bethlehem because of the census in Luke 2:1.- Campbell states that Hebrew was the first language and all other language come from it at the Tower of Babel. In Genesis 11, there is no mention of a specific language at all.Admittedly, I may reading these stories as fact too much. However, mistakes like simple mathematics or checking the Biblical account to get the story accurate is a greater travesty. If Campbell got this wrong, what else did he get wrong?

  • Ci
    2018-11-26 00:16

    This book is my first exposure to Joseph Campbell's work. I know little of mythology, and even less on comparative religion study, thus this book serves a very valuable introduction to a vast realm of scholarship and writings. Here are a few notes for my own edification:What Myths Do (page 2 onward)Four functions -- C'est la vie, presentation of a order of the cosmos, validate and support a specific moral and social order, carry individuals through the various stages in life with integrity. The "C'est la vie" aspect resonates with primitive mythologies to help people to face death, including human sacrificial rituals. In the author's words --"helping people to remove themselves, to place themselves at a distance from this conception of basic experience [i.e., living and dying]". More positively, myths are to "affirm life" and is "the discovery and recognition of the dimension of the mystery of being". This aspect reminds my recent trip to one of Belize's cave which used to serve as a site for human sacrifice by the Mayans a thousand years ago. (It is called the ATM Cave with pristine remain of a young man), Thus the horror of losing life becomes a conduit to a different sphere -- the mystic sphere. The rest of the three functions are highly amenable to social and history conditions. One must learn to read myth as metaphors residing in the spiritual realm of inner life instead of describing the outer world. That is why the conflict of modern science and mainstream religions happen mostly on the interoperation of sacred text literally and historically. The author proposes to abandon the ethical perspective of religious perspective yet retain and develop the mythical one to achieve a higher level of "radiance" in life. Page 16 "… the experience of mystery comes not from expecting it but through yielding all your programs, because your programs are based on fear and desire. Drop them and the radiance comes".What about the body and soul? Page 20 "The fundamental, simple, and great mystical realization is that by which you identify yourself with consciousness, rather than with the vehicle of consciousness. Your body is a vehicle of consciousness." …. Page 21 "When you have identified yourself with the consciousness, the body drops off. Nothing can happen to you. You are ready to be grateful to the body and to love it for having brought you to this realization, but it is only the vehicle.:West vs. East religion of God (page 27)The West separates the Creator from the creature, thus Western religion is a relationship of creature to God; the East one, the creature identifies with the God, thus it is an issue of seeking illumination of "identity". How should one lead a spiritually fulfilling life? As the title says "Thou art that" -- we are part of divine, our life's task is to experience the full measure of living, conquering desire and fear, and "follow your bliss" (quote Campbell).

  • Arman
    2018-12-13 03:31

    مجموعه ای از سخنرانی های جوزف کمبل درباره ی اسطوره و دین. این مجموعه بعد از مرگ وی، توسط انستیتویی که وظیفه ی انتشار آثارش را دارد، گردآوری و منتشر گردید.متاسفانه مترجم در جای جایِ کتاب با غرض ورزی، عقاید و اندیشه های کمبل را در مقابل اندیشه های اسلامی و شیعی قرار داده و در نظر خود با اینکار به ردِ افکار وی پرداخته است.اهمیت کتاب:بجز این کتاب، تنها دو کتاب "قدرت اسطوره" (مصاحبه های وی) و "قهرمان هزارچهره " به فارسی ترجمه شده است. این کتاب سیالیت و ابعادِ تفکر کمبل را حتی به هنگام سخنرانی هایش به تصویر می کشد. وی در این سخنرانی ها، در زمینه ی بسیاری از مضامین اسطوره ای و دینی، دروازه های اندیشه ورزانه ی جدیدی را گشوده است.

  • Lynda
    2018-11-23 20:34

    I was reading this book when my father was diagnosed with his lung cancer. Talk about literary serendipities! It's a gentle, Campbellian consideration of cultural assumptions and how they shape our overall thinking. It's a really lovely read.

  • g026r
    2018-12-10 04:20

    Campbell has an unfortunate habit of painting with too broad a brush, glossing over the important differences in order to accentuate otherwise minor similarities. That trait, along with his more unfortunate occasional trips into New Age-ish theories and terminology (at-one-ment, his obsession with numerology and making the mistake he berates others for: taking something literally when it's metaphorical -- in this case his discussion of "40 years/days/etc" as actually being 40 instead of just a way of signifying "a long time") are on display here, weakening an otherwise promising book. The fact the the chapters are stitched together from multiple speeches, talks, interviews, and writings does little for this, making the presentation somewhat lacking in focus and depth and in the end it is desperately in need of a slightly less worshipful editor to trim the verbal fat.Heavily Gnostic in both tone and topic, there is interesting material. His treatment of the Genesis stories and discussion on connotation vs. denotation are particularly interesting, it's just that the weaker parts often overwhelm and eclipse the stronger.

  • Jordan
    2018-12-12 23:34

    This is an excellent book and a fast read for anyone wanting to introduce themselves to the work of Joseph Campbell. Though the focus of the book is on the symbology and mythology inherent in the Christian Bible, the text still provides us with a nice sense of the most overarching and central message of Campbell's life's work -- namely, that when viewed correctly through the lens of mythology, all religions of the world point to the same, unending and ever-present mystery of being that is alive within each of us. Furthermore, the book demonstrates in detail that when we refuse to view religious narratives as metaphorical in nature, and insist upon interpreting them as historical facts, we deprive ourselves of the value and nourishment that they were intended to provide. Campbell's sweeping and incredible knowledge of world mythology is displayed beautifully in this book, and I encourage anyone who has not engaged his work to make a priority of doing so.

  • Nastaran
    2018-12-07 04:27

    I believe in Campbell with my blood and flesh... he understood the power of myth so well..

  • Stephanie
    2018-12-05 02:37

    I had high expectations of Joseph Campbell, as the modern man who popularized mythological study. These were mostly met in this book. Although, as a posthumously published collection of previously uncollected writings and oral transcripts, it did lack a certain unity and flow. And though it’s probably not the finest introduction to his work, I found it was littered with incredible insights, though with a few miles to walk in between. Also, it seems that Campbell’s mind is typically about five steps ahead of what he’s writing, and sometimes he just… well, skips those connective steps. If he’d had a chance to properly unfold this work into something entirely accessible, it would be a much, much longer book. And a much, much longer book by Joseph Campbell is what I feel the need to read. The editor wraps this collection of Judeo-Christian myth talk around a Sanskrit phrase that Campbell returns to frequently: tat tuam asi. Literally translated “thou art that,” the ancient phrase is a recognition of a moment when a person recognizes the value of herself in another. For Campbell, this is the ground of compassion, what leads a person to acts of altruism, the epiphany “thou art that!” is an expression of the deep sense that something connects us, each to the other. If I act for you, I am doing something to and for myself as well. The book's nutshell is this: myths have the power to bridge our conscious to our unconscious—to safeguard and transport truths across time, but they are necessarily embedded within symbolism. Their power is broken when religion literalizes them. Though Campbell himself left the Catholic faith for this reason, he recognizes a pedagogical need to teach children with concrete ideas before they can process deeper metaphorical truths. Campbell’s experience is that once the denotative meanings of stories have been abandoned, once ideas are no longer clung to as either historical truths or not truths at all… once religious literalism dies, it can be reborn in a fuller, spiritually resonate and fully realized way. Falling into exile, the exodus, the parting of the Red Sea, the incarnation, the virgin birth, Easter—all of these Biblical stories can continue to carry profound understandings of the human mystery.Also, if you don’t have time for the book, the editor’s forward is very good!Here is a sampling of my notes. Notes from the editor’s forward:“Mythology is a vessel of truth that is far more reliable than census and almanac figures, which, subject to time as myth is not, are out of date as soon as they are printed.” Etymology of metaphor: “comes from the Greek meta, a passing over, or a going from one place to another, and phorein, to move or to carry. Metaphors carry us from one place to another, they enable us to cross boundaries that would otherwise be closed to us,” (xvi). The Arthurian legends, as myth, suggest that each of us has to discover truth for ourselves. We can't rely on a bishop or priest (or parent?). Like a knight who must enter the forest at the darkest part, where no trail has been cleared before. "The inertia of organized religion is a constant challenge to spiritual growth,” (xvii).Connecting the incarnation with the eucharist: "The zeal of eternity for the incarnation in time, which involves the breaking up of the one into many." If God is to be incarnated in time, he will, by necessity, be broken into many pieces. Many myths, many peoples, many religions. The great beauty of Christ is how he reflects the state of at-one-ment with the father. Compassion demands that we each make the Hero's journey into the far reaches of the lives of people that seem different from us (xix). Campbell is like a man who restores art—art from the masters, wanting us to see it as it was before it was weighed down by muck. On end of the world: it comes every day for those whose spiritual insight allows them to see the world as it is, transparent to transcendence (xx).Christianity's most significant teaching is compassion, which requires that we die to ourselves in order to rise to the vision that reveals that we share the same human nature with all other persons. Thou art that (xx). Notes from Joseph Campbell:The end of the world, the beginning of eternal life, is the end of conflict and contest (3).It seems Campbell is saying the bible is indeed revelation. But the language of revelation is metaphor. On Bible translations that mistake metaphorical for literal: "When these translations meditate on Jesus, that is worship, not mysticism. They are meditating on the concrete referents of the death and resurrection of Jesus. You cannot meditate on those things anymore that way." (20).Near east religions think in terms of having a relationship with God: 1) Judaism has a covenant with God 2) in Christianity a person relates to the one and only incarnate Christ. The religions of the far East do not imagine relationship, but identity, union with God. Buddha is a model through which to realize the mystery of the incarnation. Campbell presents the trouble with modern Christianity: it is a historical religion that depends on historical events that have questionable evidence (28). "When you are given a dogma telling you precisely what kind of meaning you shall experience in a symbol, explaining what kind of effect it should have upon you, then you are in trouble." Gives example of virgin birth with possible meaning of conceiving Christ within (29). Ramakrishna, the last Indian saint would say "How do you like to speak about God, with form or without?" which takes care of the problem of the personification of God (39). On symbolism of the nativity scene: the scene was first seen in the 2nd century. At this time, the main competition with Christianity was a religion that worshipped Mithras, deity of the light. The Magi were understood as priests of lord Mithras. So you have Christmas placed near the winter solstice, symbolizing Christ as the light of the world. The animals: the ass was the animal of the Egyptian god Set, who killed his brother Osiris, whose animal was the ox. In the scene, you have these "saviors" prefiguring Christ and being reconciled by him (65). In 7 BC, the constellation Pisces was bright in the sky, which is a conjunction of Saturn (Saturday) as the star of Israel, and Jupiter (kingship). This would have been Jesus's star, and so it is that the symbol of the fish goes with Jesus. In Jesus’ birth narrative, the massacre of the innocents is actually drawn from the story of Krshna! (67).The infant Christ comes out of Egypt, the adult Christ is tempted in the desert for 40 days--retelling of the Exodus story. The earth goddess says of The Buddha, "This is my beloved son, who through many lifetimes has so given of himself that there is nobody here."Indian anecdote about walking on water: a pupil crossed the waters of a sea by meditating on his guru. The man relates the story to his guru, saying he thought "I will erase myself as [my guru] erased himself, and I thought "guru, guru, guru" and here I am." The guru tries it, thinks "I, I, I" and drowns. The sense of the story is, as the spirit blows over the waters, so anyone who has entirely spiritualized himself can do the same. Christ does the same, deliberately rejects showy demonstrations in the wilderness, on the donkey, and always. (My editorial note: yet we think proper worship is to make big showy demonstrations to Jesus. So weird.) Jesus's miracles are much the same ones as Elijah and Elisha. Doesn't mean they didn't happen. Much of what ails us is psychological, and spiritual realization can cause healing (73). Symbolism of water: in Judaism, they enter Egypt through a water source (Joseph thrown into a well) and exit through a water source (the Red Sea). It prefigured baptism.Why the cross as symbol of Christianity? There’s the obvious reason we imagine, yet the Mayans have a temple dating 800 AD with a cross that represents a savior who will return in a second coming! The cross is in more than one tradition! The Mayan god is Quetzalcoatl: the feathered serpent, (reminiscent for us of the Eden myth) joining creatures of earth and air. The cross is a "world tree" that connects heaven, earth, and underworld. Or the four cardinal directions. The world tree is common in world mythologies. So mythology joins up with history in the symbol of the cross for Christianity. The Mayan cross has a quetzal at the top, and a death mask at the base. There is also a medieval Christian cross with a dove at the top and a skull (signifying seed of Adam) at the base. Golgotha was the “place of the skull.” Calvary means the same, the word for ,i>skull,/i> in Latin. In the Icelandic myth Edda, specifically in Havamal, verses 139-140, 142, there are clear parallels to the crucifixion (79)! A god hangs on a tree, offered himself to Orhin (God) "myself to myself", is pierced by a spear, falls, then thrives. The challenge in education is, as in the Latin educere--to lead, to bring out what is in someone rather than merely to indoctrinate from the outside. Spiritually, we must all seek the grail by entering that part of the forest where nobody else has cut a path for us (89)."How does the ordinary person come to the transcendent? For a start, I would say, study poetry. Learn how to read a poem. You need not have the experience to get the message, or at least some indication of the message. It may come gradually. There are many ways, however, of coming to the transcendent experience" (92).The “kingdom is here” theme:"The kingdom will not come by expectation. The kingdom of the father is spread upon the earth, and men do not see it" (gospel of Thomas).Buddhism too has a banishment from a garden. Two angels stand at the gate. One with mouth open, the other closed, representing fear and desire. Conquer these and you're back in the garden. But the Buddha says "Don't be afraid, come right through."Campbell understands the "end of the world" as seeing the kingdom of god, the end of exclusivism, end of in-groups, out-groups. What about modern concern with ethnic origins and seeking our roots? While it's understandable in a global world, for us to seek out and honor our roots, "our actual ultimate tool is in our common humanity, not in our personal genealogy." When you translate the bible with excessive literalism, you demythologize it. The possibility of a convincing reference to the individual’s own spiritual experience is lost. Remythologization would rescue the stories of the bible, then, from historical literalism and a susceptibility to debunking" (111).

  • Jeffrey Howard
    2018-12-10 02:35

    Campbell never disappoints me. It is refreshing to be back inside his beautiful, image-laden, many layered world. This book is a great intro to Joseph Campbell's thought, especially Christian populations. Campbell was raised Catholic, but blazed his own path in his twenties. The editor reassures that "no true believers of any religion will find they faith diminished by reading Joseph Campbell. They will rather feel that need not surrender their traditions in order to see more deeply into their most sacred teachings and rituals." Campbell offers a couple insightful definitions of mythology, the first being that "a whole mythology is an organization of symbolic images and narratives, metaphorical of the possibilities of human experience and the fulfillment of a given culture at a given time." His personal favorite definition of mythology is "other people's religion," and religion is the "misunderstanding of mythology." He begins with the observation that "half the people int he world think that the metaphors of their religious traditions...are facts. And the other half contends that they are not facts at all. As a result we have people who consider themselves believers because they accept metaphors as facts, and we have others ho classify themselves as atheists because they think religious metaphors are lies." According to Campbell mythology (or religion) serves 4 functions: "1) reconciling consciousness to the preconditions of its own existence--that is, of aligning waking consciousness to the mysterium tremedum of this universe, as it is...2) the second function of a traditional mythology is interpretive, to present a consistent image of the order of the cosmos...3) the third function of a traditional mythology is to validate and support a specific moral order, that order of the society out of which that mythology arose...4) the fourth function of traditional mythology is to carry the individual through the various stages and crises of life--that is, to help persons grasp the unfolding of life with integrity." For those looking to revive their faith within post-modern space age or for those wanting to rescue what "truth" may be found in religion. Reading Campbell is always like having a warm conversation, with a sage-like uncle or grandfather. Some of my favorite excerpts from the book:--"Life does not have one absolutely fixed meaning. These images must point past all meanings given, beyond all definitions and relationships, to that really ineffable mystery that is just the existence, the being of ourselves and of our world." --"Is there a God? If the word "God" means anything, it must mean nothing. God is not a fact. A fact is an object in the field of time and space, an image in the dream field. God is no dream, God is no fact--"God" is a word referring us past anything that can be conceived of or named."--"The great myth--and I am not saying that it is not based on fact, only that, whether factual or not, its psychological appeal is as myth--is that of the Fall and Redemption, the "fall" of man and the "redemption" of man."--"One of the most interesting things about the Bible is that every one of the major Old Testament mythological themes has been found by our modern scholars in the earlier Sumero-Babylonian complex: The Serpent-god, the tree in the garden of immortal life, the fashioning of mankind from clay, the deluge, and many others, I think ,however, of what has happened as a result: Myths that originally had pointed to the goddess as the ultimate source are now pointing to a god!"--"...and this, the level to which all religions must finally refer--the ultimate mystery transcends the laws of dualistic logic, causality, and space-time." --"The problem for and the function of religion in this age is to awaken the heart. When the clergy do not or cannot awaken the heart, that tells us that they are unable to interpret the symbols through which they are supposed to enlighten and spiritually nourish their people. WHen, instead, the clergy talk of ethical and political problems, that constitutes a betrayal of the human race. This substitution of social work, or heavy involvement in regulating the intimate decisions of family life, has nothing to do with the real calling of the clergy to open to their people the dimensions of the meaning of the Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus."--"What a pleasure it was to live for a season in Japan where no one had ever heard of the Fall in the Garden! The whole sense of the Fall is that nature is corrupt. As a result, when you are young and full of the wonder of nature every single thing that YOU spontaneously wish to do is condemned as sinful."--"It is vital to recall that if you mistake the denotation of the metaphor for its connotation, you completely lose the message that is contained in the symbol."--"Through symbols we enter emotionally into contact with our deepest selves, with each other, and with God--a word that is to be understood as a symbol. When theologians spoke of God's being dead, a decade or so ago, just as the space age began, they were really saying that their symbols were dead."

  • Sean Goh
    2018-11-21 04:29

    This book is... very deep. Repeated readings recommended.Myth is not falsehood, myth is metaphorical. As a vessel of the truth it is far more reliable than census and almanac figures, which subject to time as myth is not, are out of date as soon as they are printed.When spiritual rights are demanded on the basis of religious metaphors as facts and geography instead of as symbols of the heart and spirit, a bitterly divided world arises with the inevitability of great tragedy.Compassion has been devalued in modern times into a protoplasmic concept as ungrounded in sacrifice as it is soaked in undifferentiated sentimentality.It, however, demands much more of our character, requiring that we make a hero's journey into the far reaches of lives of people that seem different from us.The functions of mythology:-To arouse in the mind a sense of awe, so as to discover and recognise the dimension of the mystery of being.-Interpretive, to present a consistent image of the order of the cosmos.-Validate and support a specific moral order.-Carry the individual through the various stages and crises of life (providing an overarching narrative)Mythology may be defined as other peoples' religion. And religion may, in a sense, be understood as a popular misunderstanding of mythology. It is a system of images that endows the mind and the sentiments with a sense of participation in a field of meaning.The goal of Western religions is to bring about a relationship between human beings and God, who are not the same. The typical attitude of the Levant, of the Near East from which our religions come, is the submission of human judgement to that power conceived to be God.One way to deprive yourself of an experience is to expect it.If one identifies oneself with their consciousness, the body drops off. It is merely the vehicle.When you are given a dogma telling precisely what kind of meaning you shall experience in a symbol, explaining what kind of effect it should have on you, then you are in trouble.If you do not react as expected, you doubt your faith. The real function of a church is simply to preserve and present symbols and to perform rites, letting believers experience the message for themselves in whatever way they can.The problem for and function of religion in this age is to awaken the heart. When the clergy do not or cannot awaken the heart, that tells us that they are unable to interpret the symbols through which they are supposed to enlighten and spiritually nourish their people.But the function of the sacrament of Baptism is not to pour anything into you but to pull something out of you. The sacraments are an evocation, not an indoctrination.The main thrust of the Old Testament tradition is clearly and specifically the struggle of "Yahweh", one tribal deity, against all the other gods of the world.Gods suppressed become devils, and often it is these devils whom we first encounter when we turn inward.There exist a distinction of mythologies, the nature mythologies, which put us in touch with our own nature. But there also exist antinature mythologies, the mythologies of the nomadic people. When you live in the desert, you cannot depend on Mother Nature very much and the social awareness of the situation is accented. Historical themes in the Bible became actually historical, rooted in real event, with Chronicles and Kings. But there is still a good deal of legend in them.Marriage is not a love affair, it is an ordeal. If you think of it as that you will be able to go through with it. The ordeal consists specifically of sacrificing ego to the relationship. A person is a hero or heorine when he or she is functioning in the interest of values that are not local to the person but are of some greater force of which the person is a vehicle.

  • Rebecca Elson
    2018-12-10 23:37

    This review first appeared on The Magical Buffet website on 11/11/13.How sad is this? I honestly feel just awful. I seriously started this book review over 5 times. That’s right kids, OVER 5 TIMES! I was given a copy of “Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor” by Joseph Campbell. It’s collected from previously unpublished work. It does what Campbell does best, compares the Judeo-Christian faiths similarities and misrepresentations with scholarship that is authoritative, yet a dummy like me can understand.What do I say about that besides I liked it? That I REALLY liked it! Here’s what I’d like to say, it comes from Eugene Kennedy, Ph.D., “Thou Art That’s” editor:"'Tat tvam asi' is a phrase that appears often in these collected spiritual reflections of the late Joseph Campbell. These words also inscribe a signature of celebration on his life and work. Translated from the Sanskrit as “thou art that,” this epigram captures Campbell’s generous spirit just as it does his scholarly focus. The great student of mythology not only understood the profound spiritual implications of the phrase but, quite unselfconsciously, lived by them as well.Joseph Campbell was fond of asking Schopenhauer’s question, found in his essay “On the Foundation of Morality:” “How is it possible that suffering that is neither my own nor of my concern should immediately affect me as though it were my own, and with such force that it moves me to action?…This is something really mysterious, something for which Reason can provide no explanation, and for which no basis can be found in practical experience. It is not unknown even to the most hard-hearted and self-interested. Examples appear every day before our eyes of instant responses of the kind, without reflection, one person helping another, coming to his aid, even setting his own life in clear danger for someone whom he has seen for the first time, having nothing more in mind than that the other is in need and in peril of his life….”Schopenhauer’s response, one Campbell delighted in making his own, was that the immediate reaction and response represented the breakthrough of a metaphysical realization best rendered as “thou art that.” This presupposes, as the German philosopher wrote, his identification with someone not himself, a penetration of the barrier between persons so that the other was no longer perceived as an indifferent stranger but as a person 'in whom I suffer, in spite of the fact that his skin does not enfold my nerves.'"And I feel like that’s the real story this collection of previously unpublished works is trying to tell us. Christian, Jewish, whatever. You are a person that’s part of this crazy experiment called humanity. “Thou art that.”

  • Greg Talbot
    2018-12-07 02:20

    Myth, Campbell writes, is how we describe other people's religion. And from this preface, begins Campbell's exploration of the religious experience from the participant. Campbell establishes strongly that myth is not a falsehood, but simply the internal narrative that an individual gives to their interpretation of the religious symbols and narrative.Campbell explores this as a western way of thought. The Abrahamic religions are uniquely about a relationship between the person and God. An unlike the Eastern perspective, their is no guide or Zen master, to take responsibility for your growth. Campbell in my reading sees the evolving problem that religion faces, or fails to confront, is the challenge from science and our broadened understanding of the universe. In his time, the space race extended humanity's understanding of the universe. In our time it's global connectedness and more interaction with pluralistic societies.As we brave this future, will we stick with the denotated descriptions of god morality, or venture into a spiritual connection from connotation. More simply put, so we believe religious texts as literal, unchanging documents, or do we find the deeper truth in the spirit of the work.Without question, Campbell's pluralistic education give a connotative understanding of myth, symbolism and faith. There is understanding of God in our faith, but ultimately its expressive and personal for every individual. God, he reminds us is a concept in the hearts of man, and we have to work out our internal struggle to find this presence. For the spiritual path, Campbell's work can only deepen the questions and faith.

  • Don
    2018-11-19 00:21

    "It made me reflect that half the people in the world think that the metaphors of their religious traditions, for example, are facts. And the other half contends that they are not facts cat all. As a result we have people who consider themselves believers because they accept metaphors as facts, and we have others who classify themselves as atheists because they think religious metaphors are lies.""If the word "god" means anything, it must mean nothing. God is not a fact. A fact is an object in the field of time and space, an image in the dream field. God is no dream, God is no fact - "God" is a word referring us past anything that can be conceived of or named. Yet people think opt their God as having sentiments as we do, liking these people better than those, and having certain rules for their lives.""Apocalypse does not point to a fiery Armageddon but to the fact that our ignorance and our complacency are coming to an end. Our divided, schizophrenic worldview, with no mythology adequate to coordinate our conscious and unconscious - that is what is coming to an end. The exclusivism of there being only one way in which we can be saved, the idea that there is a single religious group that is in sole possession of the truth - that is the world as we know it that must pass away. What is the kingdom? It lies in our realization of the ubiquity of the divine presence in our neighbors, in our enemies, in all of us."

  • Clair
    2018-12-13 04:14

    Mythologist Joseph Campbell discusses the aspects of myths throughout the religions of the world, and then focuses on the Biblical myths, contrasting them with their eastern counterparts, and demonstrating that all religions tap into the same patterns of myth. One of the pitfalls of western religion is it's attempt to define (and therefore limit the potential of) God, and define the meanings of ritual and myths. By doing so, the potential spiritual power of individual encounter with myths is lessened, or worse. And many of the myths of the bible are difficult to understand in our modern world, gems left undiscovered. These reasons explain the current attraction of eastern religion on the west. Finding the divine in ones self, and one's self in the universe are the function of myth -- and is done quite well in eastern religion -- but is obscured by the institutionalized religions of the west.

  • David Melbie
    2018-12-11 22:21

    This is an awesome little book! I had already been an avid admirer of Campbell's work when the Joseph Campbell Foundation began to publish the complete works series, of which this is the first. I eagerly awaited each publication and read them quickly. But, just like any other collection of Joe's scholastic writings, this one can be read again and again.This was my third reading -- the first two were back when it was first published in 2001 -- and I chewed more this time. This concept of "You Are It" is the basis for a collection of songs I wrote known as Thou Art That (Suite), which includes the songs: Evening Shade, Victoria (Ny-An-Za), Lifetime, Follow Your Bliss, and concludes with This Is It. The song Follow Your Bliss is specifically inspired by Campbell, of course, and the song This Is It was written in 1994, a full seven years before this book was published, as I was by then already applying Joe's teachings to my life and work.

  • Lily
    2018-11-21 23:29

    Lost entry when tried to correct edition!Pleasurable reading, albeit difficult and obtuse at time -- i.e., one of those books where you sometimes stop and ask "does that pretty sequence of words have meaning?" Appreciated Campbell's definitions of myth and statements regarding the uses of myths. Several sections looked at Christian symbols and their analogous appearances in other religions and literature. Campbell's preferences as a particular type of Catholic became obvious, i.e., not in agreement with a number of the changes introduced by Vatican II. The book was produced posthumously and edited by Eugene Kennedy, based on Campbell's lectures and notes. One section presented a question and answer session; another republished an interview that had appeared in the NYT in 1979, "Earthquake." The book treats the relevance, difficulties, and challenges for mythology in a world that comprehends evolution, psychology, and a vast universe.

  • Greg Metcalf
    2018-12-10 20:15

    Reading Joseph Campbell makes me feel what I think others refer to as spiritually healthy. Rather than review it, I'm going to quote a couple of passages that got me on this my second read through of this book. I'm sure last time it was other portions that "got me.""At a certain age, a certain kind of music interests you and captures your imagination, your internal self, and you participate in it. Then that drops off and another order of music comes in. Art is talking to what is possible within you.""A sacred space is any area in which everything is done to transform the environment into a metaphor. You may say that "sacred space is everywhere," but you can say that only after you have learned the discipline of sacred space, and appreciated the metaphoric significance of the objects found therein."

  • Serena Jade
    2018-12-02 04:34

    THOU ART THAT-WHEN THE EGO AND SOUL MERGE-YOU ARE IT!Thou Art That is an excellent book by one of the greatest; Joseph Campbell.In this book Mr. Campbell explains, “Half of the people in the world think the metaphors of their religious traditions are facts. And the other half contends that they are not facts at all. As a result, we have people who consider themselves believers and the other half atheists because they think religious metaphors are lies.”As Mr. Campbell states, “The final sense of a religion is to bring about an experience to the mystery of all being-thou art that-you are it!”I highly recommend Thou Art That, for a deeper understanding of religious metaphors. Serena Jade, author of CHARISMATIC CONNECTION: THE AUTHENTIC UNCOMMON AND ENLIGHTENING SOUL MATE EXPERIENCE.

  • Jason
    2018-11-15 04:33

    Campbell makes some important points about the importance of interpreting myths as mythology and not history. He also notes some important recurring themes in different world religions.However, he falls victim to some lazy syncretism here. (No, not all religious mysticism is the same. There's still a pretty big difference between Teresa Avila, the Upanishads and the Kabbalah.)Moreover, he performs some Dan Brown levels of coincidence herding. He jumbles numbers in an attempt to prove the number 432,000 repeats in most mythologies. (It doesn't. At least, not without some tortured mathematics.) Of course, he never explains what that pertinence is. He's more interested in identifying patterns -- even if some of those patterns are only in his head.

  • Cyrus
    2018-11-22 00:35

    I was very intrigued into the insights of Mr. Campbell from his interview with Bill Moyers, called the "Power of Myth". From that interview it was almost trans formative and transcending to say the least; listening to Mr. Campbell dissect and intertwine religious allegories from all cultures. I almost felt like it was what I needed at the time of my "spiritual sojourn", putting it into perspective. The book is a good read and dives more into topics such as: Notions of God, Understanding Symbols of Judeo-Christian Spirituality and some other interesting blocks of conversation. You won't be disappointed in any of his works I believe, and this book is a testament to that.

  • Alford Wayman
    2018-12-01 20:35

    An captivating little text put out by the Joseph Campbell Foundation. As always Campbell discusses how myth influences society, but that at times we confuse the symbols and meanings. This was a refreshing read. "The problem for and the function of religion in this age is to awaken the heart. When the clergy do not or cannot awaken the heart, that tells us that they are unable to interpret the symbols through which they are supposed to enlighten and spiritually nourish their people." - Joseph Campbell, "Thou Art That." pg.33

  • Lorien
    2018-12-07 00:07

    It was one of the most important books I´ve read to make me become who am I today. I was with 20 or 21 years-old, and tons of desilusions about religion, and I really desliked Christianity this time. This made me realise why I didn´t feel comfortable with it and it was very important to me to find my path trough spirituality. I always recomend this book to my friends interested in myths and religion, sometimes lending my own book full of my notes, and I think it´s a good introduction to Campbell´s work.

  • Sam Eccleston
    2018-11-17 02:37

    Campbell presents a lot of interesting ideas about the nature of religious symbolism and the original intentions of the authors of religious texts, but this work suffers from a lack of actual argumentation backing up the claims made. Additionally, on occasion some of the connections drawn between different mythological systems and themes seem hasty and under-justified. Nevertheless, this work is worth reading.

  • Price
    2018-11-27 20:33

    What can I say that hasn't been said more thoroughly and proficiently regarding Joseph Campbell's work? His august works and thoughts show a path to each reader that is then free to pursue. In short, myth and mythology are not lies. We do neither justice if perceived in that light. Face the myths and reflect. Look for the deeper truths. Nothing more, nothing less...and that as they say, is that.

  • John
    2018-11-23 03:07

    Joseph Campbell's lectures and miscellaneous writings were culled after his death for this series of books. Repetition is inevitable in a book like this, but I appreciated the effort that went into it. Among other things,I never will look at the manger scene in the same way again. Seeing the symbols of the Judeo-Christian mythology in a fresh way is very helpful for those of us who were raised in Western religions.

  • Jo
    2018-12-01 02:12

    While I really liked a lot of the ideas Campbell poses in this book, I often felt that his presentation of the ideas was rather convoluted and unclear. Also, neither he nor his editor know how to use commas. But if you think you can untangle the linguistic knots and deal with the free association feel of the writing, while tolerating comma misuse, the concepts presented are well worth the effort.

  • John Fredrickson
    2018-12-04 04:23

    This is an excellent book for those who struggle with current interpretive notions of God and holy books. Campbell debunks many of the current (and past!) tendencies to view our various holy books as historically indicative rather than being works in which the ineffable is spoken to indirectly through metaphor. I enjoyed his treatment of many of the biblical themes: virgin birth, the Garden of Eden, the serpent, etc.